Naji points out a number of things about the last location. The first is that its on Al Korsar, the only charted island on this adventure. Further, the lens fills in the terrain – the location is in the nearly impossible to reach interior. The good news is the port is a great place for the crew to blow off some steam,
Al-Korsar is the name of both the city and the island on which it stands. A high plateau surrounded by rugged, almost sheer-faced mountains whose peaks rise over 6,000 feet above the coastal plains dominates the interior. A montane cloud forest covers the mountain slopes, with evergreen trees at lower altitudes and large shrubs at higher elevations. The plateau’s summit is constantly swathed in dense clouds.
In port, the PCs see the rough and tumble town. Naji points out the Admiral’s Palace on the way to where the heroes will stay. By the standards of the emirs, the palace of Al-Korsar’s ruler is a peasant’s shack. A ramshackle affair, it is actually an entire row of three-story apartments knocked into a single structure. The inside is far grander, though arguably any pasha would boast of similar furnishings and displays of wealth. The ground floor holds the city’s sole legal court, the council meeting chamber, servants’ quarters, kitchens, and storerooms. The second floor is devoted to bureaucratic offices, along with staterooms for senior ministers and the barracks of the admirals’ bodyguards. The entire top floor is the admiral’s personal apartments.
Naji takes the group to the The Broken Compass. Naji explains that while the corsairs owe the Brotherhood of Sinbad no special favors, they rarely trouble their ships unless they are clearly laden with riches. Similarly, while few Brothers engage in piracy for a living, it behooves them to maintain friendly relations with the corsairs—Al-Korsar makes an ideal staging post for expeditions into the deep Southern Ocean. The Broken Compass is a lively inn serving good quality meals, the audience is frequently entertained by tales of mystery, close escapes, and fearsome beasts by visiting Brothers. Tabari takes the opportunity to tell of their tale on the
Island of Beasts, and their harrowing escape from the cylcops (earned Glory)
Naji offers to show the group the town. Need a bit of seed money to set things up. Promises the Empty Shell (“best seafood in Al-Shirkuh!”) and the House of Fortune (“you cannot lose!”). Those in the Compass know of Naji’s legendary “nights” and encourage the PCs to enjoy the night. The group agrees and gives Naji some seed money.
The Empty Shell: A favorite restaurant for those with a taste for fine food and deep pockets (only expensive meals are available), the Empty Shell specializes in shellfish. All the produce is caught that morning and cooked at the customer’s table. Naji basically sticks the group with the bill and uses the money for the rest of the night. It’s a big bill. The group pays up and is off to find Naji.
They track him down to the House of Fortune. While many taverns and inns offer gambling opportunities, the House of Fortune specializes in high-stakes games. The group cannot afford to get in. Salim is able to fade into sand and appear inside. He catches up to Naji, who welcomes him warmly, then ditches him with a bad hand. Naji exits out of the side door.
The group then tracks him to Houris’ Haven. Operated by the cult of Tamarni and located in the Captains’ Quarter, the Houris’ Haven is a popular tavern. Services include alcohol, prostitutes, gambling games, and legal hashish. Ahmed questions if he really should go in (he is sorting out the complex relationship between his Devoted beliefs and Faithful). This is Naji’s element. The group catches up with the Naji, but he is “protected” by the crowd, of which he is leading in sea chanties with several ladies on his arm, including a priestess of Tamarni. The priestess know Naji is a swindle, but he is such a crowd favorite that they net make money. They also “take care of” close associates of Naji on the house. Each of the group faces temptation, with Salim (hashish) and Menevis (alcohol) falling for temptation. Eventually, Araceli flushes Naji from several courtesans. He escapes out the balcony and the chase is on.
Naji leads the group in Rat Alley. People near the area stop and watch as a number of our heroes duck down the Alley in chase of Naji. Race means little if a citizen is prepared to work for a living, but sand goblins are loathe to perform hard labor or honest work. Many dwell in a narrow, filthy alley that runs through the West Docks. The group is luck to exit the other side with all the valuables intact.
Next up is the The Den. Shunned by even hardened corsairs, the Den is a tavern with an almost exclusively hyaenidae clientele. The group meets up and sees Naji drug into the place. Tabari enters and finds that the drink is cheap and strong, and meat served raw. Shows of superiority (achieved through the barring of teeth, throaty snarls, and taunting laughs) are common. The obligatory major brawl a night breaks out. Menevis, still drunk and not liking hyaenidae, plows into the scrum. Ahmed holds his own and Salim get buffeted around. Araceli brings down a huge wrought iron chandelier, allowing Tabari to escape the melee unharmed. The fight eventually spills into the streets, drawing the Watch. Our heroes wisely withdrawal.
Finally, The Rusty Gibbet. The Rusty Gibbet is a cramped, smoky tavern in the East Docks. Many of the corpses that hang outside are not convicts, but patrons who caused trouble. Only the lowliest corsairs and citizens frequent it, for the quality of the food and drink matches the extremely low prices. Our group finally catch Naji – its really late and he is enjoying a simple smoke (from a hooka) and drink with a glassy-eyed woman. “I hope you enjoyed seeing the town!” The group is both amused and pissed at Naji.
In this run down bar this is where Araceli and Menevis run into Arad, the Pathfinder. He is down on his luck and on the run. The curse dreams have been strong. They also notice Beni. Menevis and Araceli are very concerned that the known survivors of the Curse are all in the same place. Upon confrontation, he drops something from his hand – it flashes with a bang (he escapes, of course) and a Giant Scorpion appears and attacks! After a brutal fight, the creature disappears in the swirl of sand. All the remains is a small item with the same Cartouche that is on the cursed Canopic jars. It is becoming clear that one cannot run from the reach of this curse.